The 2020 HPN Consensus Phantom Draft

It feels like the Grand Final was just yesterday. The trade period may have just finished a couple of hours ago.

If the 2020 AFL Home and Away season was the longest on record, then the 2020 Offseason has felt incredibly short.

In just a few short hours time, the 2020 AFL Draft will be upon us, and a smaller than usual number of youngsters will be waiting with baited breath to hear their names called out.

HPN has again collated a variety of phantom drafts from a wide variety of sources to try to work out where players might fall in the draft. The nominated drafters this year are:

The Order

After crunching the numbers, this is where the players are, on average, likely to fall.

Picks have been assigned to clubs in the above consensus phantom draft just for illustrative purposes, but since these rankings are pure averages, it does not mean any individual draft observer has actually predicted a particular club to take a certain selection.

The consensus view has Adelaide bidding on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at pick one, and then selecting Logan McDonald with their live selection after the Bulldogs match.

The late view has Elijah Hollands, son of former Tiger Ben, locked into North at the new pick 3. Then, things start to get a little interesting.

The split of views between McDonald and Thilthorpe at Adelaide’s live choice means that the consensus model sees the Swans picking the latter up at 4 – despite the Swans being popularly linked to Denver Grainger-Barras.

In this scenario, Hawthorn would miss out on both KPFs that they had been focusing on, and would have to settle for Grainger-Barras.

Will Phillips gets tabbed by Gold Coast next at 6 (with their only live pick), before the Dons bid on Braeden Campbell at pick 7 – which the Swans will quickly match. Tanner Bruhn, Archie Perkins and Zach Reid would round out the top 10 in this scenario.

However, the issue of Denver Grainger-Barras and the Swans highlights a weakness of only looking at average selections. Thilthorpe is predicted, on average, higher than Grainger-Barras, even though no individual phantom drafter selected him for Sydney if he was available there.

How do you account for sliding academy or father/son selections, and tie players to the clubs most linked to them?

To see what clubs might take which players, we can instead assign clubs by their “mode” selection – the most selection available to each club at each pick.

A strong consensus means that most draft watchers believe that a player will go to a certain pick, while a weak consensus either means less information or more uncertainty and dependencies higher up the order.

This view sees Sydney locked into Grainger-Barras at 4 – which is more in line with general gossip around clubland. Thilthorpe falls to the Hawks at 5, instead, with the rest of the top 10 unchanged.

But the consensus seems less strong than usual this year, compared to last year where there was above-70% consensus for most of the top 12.

This year, even with few in-person meetings and scouting opportunities, certain players seem to be locks to different clubs.

The most compromised draft in memory?

After the talk about the inherently compromised nature of the 2020 Draft, in the end the number of academy and father/son picks at the pointy end of the draft will fall largely in line with previous years.

In 2016, four tied players were selected in the top 20 – the same as is predicted in 2020. In 2015, five tied players were picked inside the top 16, with a further two inside the top 25 (Josh Dunkley wasn’t matched).

While some years are leaner than other when it comes to academy players, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is in line to be the highest Academy player selected in the draft, beating out Callum Mills at number 3 in 2015. The chat around the sheer ability of JUH has caused the AFL to alter the rules for Next Generation Academy players in future years.

How many draftees will get picked?

This one is a bit more of an abstract question, and one alluded to above. Due to a variety of AFL rule changes this year, the number of draftees may plumment from the usual level.

According to the fantastic Draftguru, there are between 57 and 93 selections able to be made tonight. This means we could be in for a very short night.

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